How To Install A Trailer Hitch On A Subaru

Below is a video on How To Install A Trailer Hitch On A Subaru

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Today we will be showing you how to install a trailer hitch on a Subaru. This install procedure will be pretty close to the same on most Subaru’s. For an older Subaru the difference will be the mounting spot and that there are not welded nuts within the frame. So the trailer hitch will come with a 2″ x 3” square stock that has a nut welded to it. Those will need to be slide up into the frame and slide back over the hole and will become the mounting point for the trailer hitch.

For newer models like this one there are nuts welded within the frame that we will be using to secure the trailer hitch. Well are going to be showing you on this 2007 Subaru Outback. So to start you will want to pick the correct hitch for your needs. There are Class 1 hitches rated for 2,000 lbs. of gross trailer weight and 200 lbs. There are Class 2 hitches rated for 3500 lbs of gross trailer weight and 300 lbs tongue weight. That’s what we are installing today. The Class one and two have a 1 ¼ receiver tube or use a 1 ¼ receiver. Once you go to the Class three hitch it moves up to a 2” receiver. The Class 3 hitch is rated for 4000 lbs of gross trailer weight and 400 lbs tongue weight.

*Whenever you install a trailer hitch you need to look within the Owners manual to see what the maximum towing capacity is as the hitch may be rated for more then what the vehicle can handle so you need to go by whichever number is less.  Another thing to check is that most hitches will not come with the reciver unless noted that it will. I find it best to install the trailer hitch and see what style reciver you need to best keep your trailer level while towing. You maybe be able to you a stright out one or you may need to use one that rasies the trailer or if your running a lift kit maybe one the drops the front of the trailer.

Next well open the hitch and make sure you have all the things needed to install it. You should have four 17 mm bolts, flat washer, lock washers and shims. You also should have one carriage bolt, silver plate with a square hole in it and a 19 mm nut to fit it. Some of the items we are going to need to install the trailer hitch are a pair of safety goggles, a strap, flat screwdriver, poly wire brush, kroil, 4 or 5” ½ extension , 17 mm and a 19 mm socket. We are also going to need a ½” ratchet and a ½” torque wrench, anti seize, easy slip silicone spray. We are also going to need a jack or car ramp and some jack stands.

So to start well park the car on a level surface and then jack up the back of the car and place our jack stands under it to ensure it can’t fall on us. Once the car is securely in the air we can climb underneath it and place the strap from side to side of the car right in front of the rear diff to support the exhaust. We are using the strap to hold the exhaust so it doesn’t hang to low and cause the center exhaust gasket to leak.

Once we have the strap in place we can locate the five exhaust hangers we need to remove to lower the exhaust down. There will be two by each muffler and one more right by the rear diff/ drivers side rear axle. Well use our silicone spray and spray the exhaust hangers so we can easily slide them off. It doesn’t matter which side we remove wither its off the car side or the exhaust side. Well do the one by the rear diff first and then the ones by the mufflers.

If you have the bigger mud flaps or splash guards you can remove them or just bend them out of the way so the outside exhaust hangers can get by them in order to lower the exhaust down enough to get the hitch in place. Next we can locate the holes we need to use to install the trailer hitch. If your still has the rubber plugs in place you can use the flat screwdriver and pop them out. On this car they have been removed already or have fallen out.

Once you have the rubber removed you can clean the threads out be spraying the kroil up into the holes and using the nylon brush to clean the thread and then some compressed air. For this car as there is a little bit of rust we are going to use a M10 x 1.25 tap and run it though the threads real quick to ensure they are clean and will accept the bolt. So once we have run the tap though each mounting hole we are now ready to put the trailer hitch in place and start the 17 mm bolts by hand.

Next well grab the 17 mm bolt and put the lock washer on and then the flat washer. Once we have the washer in the correct order we can take some anti seize and put a decent amount onto the end of the bolt to ensure if we need to remove the hitch we can. With the anti seize on the bolts we can bring the hitch in from the back of the car and over top the mufflers and then raise it into position and align the holes with the ones within the car frame. Once there aligned well start one bolt on one side. Once we have that bolt started we can start another bolt on the other side. That will help hold the hitch up and in place.

One we have a bolt of each side we can now install the other two bolts one in each side. Once we have those four 17 mm bolts installed we can now install the center carriage bolt. To install that carriage bolt we will need the flat plate with the square hole in it, the carriage bolt and the 19 mm nut that fits it. We will take the bolt and slide it into the flat plate making sure the carriage bolt goes down into the square. That square is going to hold the carriage bolt from turning as we try and tighten it up. Once we have the plate on the bolt we can take that assembly and drop it down though the tow point. Well make sure when we drop it down though the tow point that it aligns with the hole in the trailer hitch and comes out the bottom. Once its though we can grab the 19 mm nut hold up on the trailer hitch and start the nut by hand.

Next we can grab the ratchet and the 17 mm socket and tighten the four outside bolts above the muffler. Once we have them snugged down we can grab our ½” torque wrench and set it to 49 lbs and tighten them down. Once we have the four outside bolts properly torqued down to 49 lbs we can grab the ratchet and a 19 mm socket and tighten the center carriage bolt. Once we have it tightened down we can grab the torque wrench and well set it to 110 lbs and torque it down.

Once we have all the bolt torqued down we need to check the trailer hitch for level. If you jacked just the back of the car up you will need to lower it so its as level as possible. For this you will need a 6″ level as a 6” will work the best. Once the car is level we can take the 6” level and place it on the square tubing of the trailer hitch on both sides and see which way if any the trailer hitch needs to go.

For this one it need the shims in the rear mounting point. To tip the hitch upward a bit. Once we installed the rear shims the point where the trailer hitch and the rear tow point meet fits together better as they are now on the same plane. If you need to shim the trailer hitch to make it level be sure to re torque all your bolts. 49 lbs for the four outside bolts and 110 lbs for the center carriage bolt.

Once we have the trailer hitch leveled and re torqued we can now reconnect the five exhaust hangers. Well do it the same way we removed them. The one by the rear diff and then the ones by the mufflers. Once we have all the exhaust hangers put back on we can back up to the trailer we plan on towing with the vehicle and see what receiver we need to keep the trailer as level as possible.


That’s it we have just shown you how to install a trailer hitch one a Subaru.







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